Autonomous Air Taxi completes first test flight in Dubai

 

The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which is expected to be used for the world’s first self-flying taxi service, recently completed its maiden concept test flight at a location near a park in Dubai.

The vehicle has been supplied by a Germany-based specialist manufacturer of autonomous air vehicles called Volocopter.

“After the remarkable success of the first driverless metro in the region, we are glad to witness today the test flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi,” says HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

“This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.”

Capable of transporting people without human intervention or a pilot, the two-seater AAT, which is about two meters in height, is powered by clean electricity, making it an environmentally-friendly vehicle.

The current prototype version of the vehicle has a maximum flight time of about 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h, and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h.

According to HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, the AAT has a number of impressive features which make it capable of being used for the world’s first self-flying taxi service.

“The Autonomous Air Taxi has a variety of unique features that include top security and safety standards, and multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls,” Tayer, says.

“It is also fitted with optional emergency parachutes, nine independent battery systems, and a battery quick-charge and plug-in system, which takes two hours to reach full charge in the prototype version, a time that will be significantly reduced in the production version.”

The public would access the AAT service through a smart mobility app. Through the app, customers would be able to book flights, receive booking reference details and track the route of the vehicle.

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), which will introduce the self-flying taxi service, will work with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority over the next five years to make sure that the “operational requirements for implementing AAT services are put in place.”

Some of these requirements will include the development of laws and policies “governing certification of the aircraft and AAT operations at an Emirate and Federal level,” setting standards for official operators of AAT services in Dubai, and specifying security and safety standards for the AAT.

According to Al Tayer, the RTA has appointed JDA Aviation Company— an autonomous air-vehicle safety specialist based in Bethesda, Maryland—to “oversee preparations for AAT flights and manage safety.”

During the five-year time period that the RTA is working with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, trial operations will be conducted and the “process of developing legislation” for these types of vehicles will be underway. Tayer also says that “comprehensive operational, security and safety measures” will be put in place.